A Round Up Of This Seasons A-League Women By Ben Gilby

During the festive period I was asked to take part in a piece about the A-League Women for the site Impetus Football. From there my eyes were opened to a league I had not really watched before and it definitely peaked my interest. Today's post is from Ben Gilby who has looked beneath the surface of a season that to the outside world may have looked to be a case 'same-old' when in fact there was so much to cherish in terms of breakthroughs and achievements this season. So over to Ben for the rest of the post... 

Just like last season, Sydney FC met Melbourne Victory in the A-League Women Grand Final, and just like last season, Melbourne Victory lifted the trophy at the end of the game. Yet despite this, Australia’s senior women’s football competition had so much more to offer.

Adelaide United made their first ever Finals, Perth Glory came within one goal of qualifying for the Finals ahead of eventual champions Melbourne Victory, and Wellington Phoenix, fielding a team of previously unknown teenagers had a sensational inaugural campaign in the league.

Here’s a team-by-team review of the season...

Team picture, Photo: Adelaide United FC

ADELAIDE UNITED (Final placing: 4 th / 10 then beaten Semi-Finalists)

This was the greatest season in the club’s history. The South Australians played Finals football for the first time and went into the season defining matches as the competition’s in-form side. Boasting the league’s top scorer, former Coventry United striker Fiona Worts, with Chelsie Dawber in career-best form in front of goal too, Adrian Stenta’s side were a joy to watch. Solid at the back, marshaled by Izzy Hodgson and Matilda McNamara, they put last year’s heartache when they missed the Finals by just one goal behind them. With Worts tied down for another year already and Dawber suggesting she may comeback from the NWSL where she recently signed for Chicago Red Stars in time for next season, there is a lot to be positive about in Adelaide long term.

Shea Connors (Orange kit), one of their stand out players in action against Newcastle Jets. Photo: Brisbane Roar.

BRISBANE ROAR (Final placing 6 th / 10)

A real curate’s egg of a season for Brisbane, who are regular competitors in Finals football. They coughed up winning positions in the final 10 minutes in over half of their matches during the season. Yet wins over Finals bound Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City were mixed with an 8-2 thumping by Adelaide United. Two big wins on the bounce against Newcastle Jets also come with a virtual asterisk attached as the Jets could only name a squad of 13 players for those games due to injuries. Shea Connors, Anna Margraf and Katrina Gorry were all outstanding at times, but there were too many inexplicable lapses at the back. Head coach Garrath McPherson faces a big inquisition ahead of preparations for next season.

A-League Women all-time record scorer Michelle Heyman going for goal against Brisbane Roar. Photo: A-League Women.

CANBERRA UNITED (Final placing 7 th / 10)

A complex campaign for the capital city side. Canberra were beaten semi-finalists last season, but the loss of key defenders plus the unavailability of key forward Nickoletta Flannery really hit. United still had talismanic Michelle Heyman, the league’s all-time record scorer, and the outstanding Grace Maher along with new arrival Allira Toby. Yet, the facts are that nine of the 13 points that the Lime Green Machine earned across the campaign came in their final five matches. Head coach Vicki Linton paid the price for the disappointing return, announcing her departure ahead of what Capital Football termed “a major review of the season”.

Holly McNamara (Sky Blue shirt) one of the young stars of the competition this season. Photo: Melbourne City FC.

MELBOURNE CITY (Final placing 2 nd / 10 then beaten Preliminary Finalists)

An impressive return to form by the Sky Blues after last season’s disappointing campaign when they never troubled the top four. Rado Vidosic remains one of the most fascinating coaches to listen to. His weekly press conferences were eagerly awaited during the season as he always had something insightful or passionate to say. City fielded the breakthrough youngster of the season in Holly McNamara who went from a virtual unknown to an international call-up for Australia for the Asian Cup. The 19-year-old formed an outstanding partnership with experienced New Zealand international Hannah Wilkinson. With the return of Rebekah Stott from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Emma Checker in defence, City were strong, suffering only three losses and the concession of just 11 goals all season. They went down away to Sydney FC in the first week of the Finals in an absolute classic encounter. Finishing second, they earned the right of a challenge the following week with cross city rivals

Melbourne Victory in the Preliminary Final, but the eventual champions, able to field their strongest line-up of the season, comfortably defeated City 3-1. If Vidosic’s side can keep McNamara and Wilkinson, they will push hard next season.

Melbourne Victory players salute their fans after beating Melbourne City in the Preliminary Final. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

MELBOURNE VICTORY (4 th / 10 – then Grand Final Winners)

Melbourne Victory certainly went through the wringer during the campaign. Former Fulham and Crystal Palace player Jeff Hopkins assembled the competition’s best team on paper, but a combination

of injuries, COVID and a horrendous fixture pile-up at the end of the season meant that it wasn’t until the last weeks of the campaign that he could field his strongest team. The problems showed as successive matches over the Christmas period were lost 5-1 to Melbourne City and 4-2 to Brisbane Roar. A spell of seven games in just 25 days stretched Victory, but in a dramatic last day of the season, Hopkins’ team needed a draw against Canberra United to qualify for the Finals ahead of Perth Glory – and they did so. Finishing fourth meant that the defending champions would need to win three successive Finals away from home to take the title – and they did just that winning at Adelaide United, Melbourne City, and Sydney FC to take the silverware. Amy Jackson, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin deserve huge praise for their efforts along with Catherine Zimmerman and late arrival from the USA, Brooke Hendrix. At their best, the Dark Blues were too good for everyone.

Marie Dolvik in possession for the Jets against Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Getty Images.

NEWCASTLE JETS (8 th / 10)

A season when the ever-underachieving Jets promised so much, but resorted to type with a bottom third finish. Hopes were high pre-season with the arrival of Norwegian international Marie Dølvik along with the retention of regular stars Tara Andrews and Hannah Brewer, but Newcastle never really got going. Their season ended in disaster when, riddled with injuries, they were not allowed to add emergency loan signings to their squad and could only name 13 players for the final games. Once more it is back to the drawing board for their coach Ash Wilson.

One of Perth Glory's shining young stars, Alana Jancevski. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

PERTH GLORY (5 th / 10)

The club who launched the career of local hero Sam Kerr. Perth made three Grand Finals (2015, 2017, 2019) but will look back on the season just gone as arguably the greatest in their history. Due to COVID restrictions on the Western Australia border, Perth only played their first game of the season at home and were forced into a hub 2,500 miles away in North Sydney for the remainder of the campaign. To put this into perspective, that is a five hour flight – equal to flying from London to Iraq. Perth’s squad is made up of players who work and study either at university or at school. To continue playing in the competition they had to get permission to leave and play. In the end, everyone went. Alex Epakis assembled a squad of some of the country’s brightest young talent in Alana Jancevski, Hana Lowry, Susan Phonsongkham, Claudia Mihocic and Sofia Sakalis. There was an experienced spine of returning club legends Kim Carroll and Lisa De Vanna. Despite being so far from home, suffering a COVID outbreak and a big injury list, Perth were outstanding. They missed out on Finals football by just one goal. They are going to be a real threat next season.

Cortnee Vine (Sky blue shirt) captured in familiar maurading style against Melbourne City in the Semi-Final. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

SYDNEY FC (1 st / 10 then beaten Grand Finalists)

For much of the season, the undisputed top team in the competition. Ante Juric’s side were unplayable at times. Cortnee Vine, back after suffering a MCL injury was better than ever. She was red hot down the right, supplying balls in and hitting some great goals herself. She continued this form with the national side after receiving her first ever call up for the Matildas at the Asian Cup. Vine was one of the few positives from a very frustrating tournament in India for Australia. The Sky Blues benefited from a skewed draw and re-arranged games due to COVID which meant that they did not play a game outside of their home state until the final month of the season. When they did go over the border, they lost vital ground against top teams. However, Sydney finished top and so were guaranteed to play all of their Finals matches at home. A high quality 4-2 win over Melbourne City in the semi set up a Grand Final re-run with Melbourne Victory at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Sydney absolutely dominated the Grand Final, but failed to take any of their many chances when they arrived. When Melboune Victory created opportunities in the second half, they were converted into goals and in the end, that was the difference. Sydney have already lost key forward Remy Siemsen to AIK in Sweden with Vine highly sought after overseas as well. Sydney have lost three Grand Finals in a row now and need to look into why a team who has dominated during the regular season cannot get over the line.

Wellington players celebrate after recording their first-ever A-League Women victory against Canberra United. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.


Yes they finished bottom, but wow, what a season of huge positives for the Kiwis in their maiden campaign in the competition. A team put together about a month before the season started was, by necessity very young. The vast majority of the team were teenagers and they got better and better as the season went on. Alyssa Whinham was originally just going to be an academy player, but became one of the stars of the whole league. Two games were won and if the season had gone on for another few weeks they would have avoided bottom spot. There is a hugely positive future ahead if head coach Gemma Lewis can keep this team together.

Wanderers' star defender Clare Hunt whose injury had a massive impact on their season. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers.


A desperate season for the Wanderers. Going into the campaign, head coach Catherine Cannuli readily admitted she focused on tightening up defensively rather than on attacking strength. That was born out in the stats as for so long Western Sydney had one of the best defensive records in the competition. However, an injury to Clare Hunt, who had been an absolute defensive rock proved to be disastrous. Seventeen goals were conceded in their final five matches and, given the rapid improvements of Wellington Phoenix during the campaign it is fair to say that Wanderers felt more like wooden spoonists than the Kiwis. Wanderers have one of the best youth set ups in Australian football and outstanding facilities and their continual underachievement in the A-League Women competition is hugely frustrating. They have signaled intent by bringing in Tom Sermanni, former USWNT, Australia and New Zealand head coach as their first head of Women’s Football.

Thank you Ben for today's post, it gives us who aren't too clued up on the league more of an insight of the goings on at each team and I have to say I will be watching a lot more of the A-League Women when it restarts next season... but which team do I pick to follow? 

You can find more from Ben on Twitter, Instagram and of course read more of his posts over at Impetus.

A Look at Bradford City Women's season

Well what a season that was, finally we have watched our first complete season for the Bradford City Women and it definitely hasn't disappointed. It was a bit of a nerve-wrecking one at times but at the end of the day it has also shown that going forward the club have got a lot of potential and have made a massive improvement since we first went to see them at the start of the 2019/20 season which ultimately ended up cancelled thanks to the pandemic. 

This season was Chris Hames' first full season in charge almost two years after taking the reigns at the club and it was finally his chance to show us all what he was capable of as a manager. Granted times were tough at stages during the season and results didn't always go in our favour even when we put in some great performances, but the players kept on playing and pushing to get a result which is something they didn't do when we first went to see them, back in 2019 they seemed to go a goal behind and just give up but now they push and have often managed to pull a few goals back due to this determination. This definitely goes to show the growth of the players under the management of Hames which was definitely needed to keep them in the league. 

The team put in some fantastic performances throughout the whole season pulling off some great results but the league was definitely a tough one this season with teams seeming to be on a level playing field which ultimately meant that even after some fantastic performances City were pulled into a relegation battle a few times throughout the season just due to the quality of those teams around them and honestly it was often very tense in the stands when results just didn't seem to fall our way but they a quick check on social media always seemed to show that those around us were having the same sort of luck. The final few weekends of games were spent with a lot of time on social media checking all the results around us as it was so close anyone could have ended up in that final relegation spot but luckily City won their final game whilst those around them didn't have the same luck and somehow with how those final results went City ended up jumping into a 7th place finish. If they had been consistent throughout the season though I really do believe we could have seen them finish even higher but referee decisions and a few lapses in judgement just meant some results ran away from them and towards the end of the season a few points were dropped.

The club had a very good run in the county cup too with them making the semi-finals where they were unfortunately beaten by local rivals Leeds United not long after holding them to a draw in the league game. The run was definitely a good one and everyone in the stands really did believe the team could have gone all the way but unfortunately after a tightly contested game Leeds proved just that little bit too strong for Bradford. The results in the build up to the semi final were great though and showed just how the team were improving throughout the season, even in the FA cup they challenged well but unfortunately fell to defeat in the second round, as for the FAWNL plate they showed potential but after a very tough game against Boldmere St Michaels (who ended up winning their league) City were unfortunately knocked out of the plate on penalties. I am really looking forward to seeing how the club progress through the cup competitions next season though as with the performances they were showing towards the end of the season they have the capability of going pretty far I believe. 

It was pretty special seeing the team play the West Yorkshire derby at Valley Parade during the season too as over 500 fans turned up to support the game which definitely didn't leave anyone in the stands disappointed. This was a great game to watch and it was great covering it on all our social media channels from the press box, it was certainly a special experience for us. The fact that City won this game too was just the icing on the cake and it gave the players a chance to show everyone what they were capable of in such a great stadium. 

As for the players this season they have all played really well putting in some fantastic performances with Sophie Hawkins picking up some great crucial goals, Maisie Norde putting in some great set pieces to create some brilliant goals for the team and Monika Stube really stepping up in the vice captain role whilst putting in some solid midfield performances however, if we had to pick a player of the season it is definitely between Katy Woodcock & Charlotte Stuart who have both been consistently brilliant over the course of the season grabbing some great goals and covering a lot of the pitch both attacking and defensively. Even with a lot of big knocks from the opposition Stuart managed to carry on the games and really show the opposing teams just what a threat she could be. Woodcock has shown exactly why she is captain too, sat in the stands you can hear her commanding the team and helping pick them up when they have gone a goal behind. 

This season has definitely been one of progression and I am really looking forward to seeing how the team builds in the off season and how they perform in the preseason games as I think if they can keep hold of a fair few players, build up a good bench as back ups for injuries etc they can really capitalise on this seasons progression and make some great progress up the league table and in the cups they compete in. 

What were your thoughts on Bradford City Women's season?

A round up of the FAWNL Division 1 North


We seemed to blink and the season has flown by this time around and what a great season it has been across many leagues with some very competitive games played all over the country. Our focus this season though was on the FAWNL Division 1 North where Bradford City Women were playing their football and hoping to make progress after a relegation into the league then continuous disruption from the pandemic, they could never hit the ground running and poor Chris Hames was looking to complete his first season in charge 2 and a bit years after taking charge. 

We started watching this league back in 2019 when we started up Edge of the Area as we wanted to write reports based on our local team Bradford City's games and to be honest we very quickly came to fall in love with the league and opted to spend our Sunday's watching this league rather than travelling to Manchester like we used to when we went to watch Manchester City a lot. 

This was our first full season of watching the league thanks to pandemic cancellations, we really did start the blog at the wrong time, but it was great to get really involved and invested in the league as it was an interesting season. There were teams we hadn't seen before putting in some brilliant performances then you had Bradford who really stepped it up a gear this season but more on that in its own post very soon. 

Sometimes leagues are just run by 1 or 2 teams however in this league up until the mid point of the season it really was anyone's league to win with all teams showing what they were capable of however, that did change towards the end of the season when the top 2 Liverpool Feds and Newcastle were starting to gain momentum and run away with the league whilst chasing for that 1 promotion spot. At the bottom of the table it was close for the majority of the season with 3 teams going down, Bradford were trying their hardest to get away from the drop zone however, those teams around them were putting in some promising perfromances too. It would eventually go down to the final few games to decide who went down and luckily for Bradford their performances ended up getting the a mid table finish whilst unfortunately we saw Alnwick, Chester-Le-Street and FC United all relegated from the league. In the final few games Liverpool pulled away from Newcastle too which saw the Feds grab that well deserved promotion. The league was actually that tight towards the end of the season we were constantly checking the results of those teams around us to make sure we weren't back in that danger zone and luckily results were going in our favour.

The league had some great games as I said earlier and it also provided us with a few shock results like Chorley beating high flying Newcastle when they were really pushing for those points to gain promotion, I don't think anyone really saw that coming. Then you have the West Yorkshire derby games of Bradford vs Leeds where City managed to beat Leeds in the home fixture before drawing 3-3 in the reverse fixture. I think these games just went to show how far City have come as previously Leeds would have put a fair few past City without a response but it just goes to show City's improvement.

There were some great attendances in the league this season too and to be honest I think it just goes to show us all how far the women's game has come along in recent years. This isn't even the top league and we saw just over 22,000 fans turn up to watch Newcastle take on Alnwick at St James Park, which shows if you market the games right those fans will make their way through the turnstiles. We also saw over 500 fans at Valley Parade for Bradford City vs Leeds United and for an evening game I don't think it is that bad at all it was during term time and people still headed there with kids even after a long days work. 

I think if the teams that have remained in the league after this season can really capitalise on the progress they have made we could see another very close season with a few surprise names pushing for that promotion spot, I know I would definitely like to see Bradford really making a push for it and they could be ones to keep an eye on as I think with a consistent preseason under their belt we could really see them hit the ground running when the new season begins. Newcastle are another team to watch as with the new owners getting involved with the women's team I think they are going to put the rest of the league through their paces and make an even bigger push for promotion now Liverpool are out of their way. We have seen Hull City relegated to this league too and he question is are they going to bounce straight back up or are they going to take some time to settle into their league?

Fingers crossed next season is as close as this one was as it made for a very interesting league to follow and I am already excited for the new season to begin as weekends are definitely boring without a game to watch, I am even looking forward to heading to some preseason games to see how the Bradford team is looking heading into the new season. 

There have been plenty of interesting moments throughout the season but my favourite games definitely has to be Bradford City vs Leeds United at Valley Parade as I was up in the press box for this one and it was overall just a fantastic game and to see the joy on the City players faces when they won was fantastic, fingers crossed we can see the team at Valley Parade again next season putting in another great performance. 

If you watched any of the FAWNL Division 1 North last season what was your favourite game?

Our favourite FAWSL players of the 2021/22 season

I really don't know where this season has gone, we seem to have blinked and we are at the end. It is safe to say it has been a great season in the FAWSL this time around as for a change we don't seem to have just the one team running away with the league and it has felt like such change having it much more competitive. We have seen teams put in surprise performances and we have seen some teams who are usually flying struggle to hit the ground running before finally finding their footing to push for a Champions League spot. It has definitely been interesting in terms of teams changing and surprising us all however, there have definitely been some players who have stood out individually too and here are my favourite players from the 2021/22 FAWSL season...

Alessia Russo 

Russo has really made a name for herself this season in my eyes and I think she has definitely helped Manchester United in their push for that final Champions League spot this season and we have seen her get herself on the International scene with England too. With Russo still only being a young player I think we are only going to see her get better and better in future seasons and she is definitely a player to keep an eye on.

Alex Greenwood 

Greenwood has always been a player I have enjoyed watching play however, this season she has definitely caught my eye even more due to Manchester City's defensive issues especially at the start of the season. It is no secret the team have struggled in this area with injuries and inconsistencies however, Greenwood has been there to step up and put in some great performances and stop some promising attacks from the opposition. She has stood out as both a central defensive player and on the left. I am hoping we get to see Greenwood in the Euros as I think she could play a big part in England's progression. 

Millie Bright

Bright has impressed me for a fair few seasons now for a variety of reasons. She has really stood out defensively at Chelsea and puts in some great challenges but this season we have seen just how good she is at attacking and creating attacks too. Bright is a staple in the Chelsea defensive line up and again I am hoping she carries her form through into the Euros as she could create a big difference in that back line. In my eyes Bright is just a no nonsense defender that you don't get enough of these days. 

Lauren Hemp 

Hemp is a young player who has impressed me for a while now as she really did come bursting onto the scene at Manchester City. Hemp is a fantastic player for her age and over the years if she stays major injury free I can only see her getting better and better. Her pace and skill down the wing has help Man City getting into some fantastic positions and she has also grabbed herself some goals in the process showing she can not only create the opportunity when needed but also finish the job off herself to give the team goals when required. 

Leah Williamson 

Williamson is finally getting the recognition she deserves. For years she has been a fantastic solid defender at Arsenal and recently we have really seen her step up at International level, enough to see her named as England's captain for the upcoming Euros which just goes to show how far she has come these past few seasons. Even with injuries Williamson has bounced back to put in some very solid performances and I think we are still to see the best out of her as she gets given more of a chance to show what she is capable of. 

Ella Toone 

Toone is another very young player who has stood out this season as she has had a fantastic season at Manchester United and has really made a name for herself this season. A lot of people already had a feeling Toone was going to develop into a great play however, I think this season has just gone to show how much she is progressing and just what we can see from her in the future. I think next season she could be a big part of Manchester United's push to improve on this seasons final table position. 

Looking back at this post now I am noticing that all the players that have impressed me the most are English so fingers crossed that is a good sign that these players are going to continue impressing me at the Euros (if picked) as if they play like they have all season I think we could see them help England get quite far in the competition. I definitely didn't watch half as much of the FAWSL as I wanted due to schedule clashes with the Bradford City men's & women's team plus why do TV games seem to always focus on the same teams? 

Fingers crossed next season I can watch a lot more games and I think there could be some transfers that lead to new players to keep a close eye on throughout the course of the 2022/23 season plus there will be plenty of players returning from long term injuries who are bound to make an impact for their teams. 

Who were some of your favourite players for the 2021/22 FAWSL season?